Redwings Horse Sanctuary is releasing video footage (Below) showing the effects of fireworks on some of their residents taken yesterday (Bonfire Night, Sunday 5th November).
Last week the largest horse welfare charity in the UK urged people to contact their local MP to ask for a review of fireworks legislation and the impact they have on animals.
Tragically, three ponies have died at Redwings in recent years because of fireworks being set off near their centres. A special podcast episode produced last year, which is still available to listen to here, told Cinders, Sprite and Percy’s stories.
Lynn Cutress, Redwings’ Chief Executive, said:
“We are grateful to our neighbours who let us know about firework displays nearby but as you can see from this footage, which clearly shows the distress caused to our horses from firework displays last night, it isn’t enough.
“We have experienced the worst effects of fireworks here at Redwings, with three of our beloved residents dying in previous years because of large displays near our centres.
“We take all measures possible to protect our horses, ponies, donkeys and mules, including moving them to other locations, but as all horse owners know, this isn’t always an option.
“With many fireworks displays re-arranged due to wet weather we are very concerned that their awful impact on animals is going to be prolonged this year as displays continue through November and beyond, and whilst our horses are so far thankfully okay, we know that other organisations haven’t been so lucky. We hope that by releasing this video people will see how distressing fireworks are for horses, as they are for other animals, and think again about the cost of using them.”
Last week, in a special podcast which you can listen to here, the charity revealed that it spent an extra £300 a night on additional staffing and forage to help protect horses from the adverse effects of fireworks at their south Norfolk centres last year. Staff were brought in for 50 extra hours during four nights in October and November, to counter any incidents caused by firework displays happening nearby. The total bill for the measures was almost £1500*.
“We increase our staffing levels at sites where we don’t have live-in staff over the fireworks season so that we can make more regular checks on our residents, in addition to making lots of other provisions, including putting out additional forage.
“As a prey species, horses are naturally fearful of loud noises. When they’re stressed and frightened, they can exhibit ‘flight’ behaviours, like galloping to the point of exhaustion or trying to escape their enclosure because they feel unsafe. This can be dangerous for the horse and any people who are near them, including potentially road users if horses become loose.
“The financial cost of the extra measures we take during the fireworks season is not insignificant to a charity like ours, but obviously our residents’ welfare is our top priority.”
Helen Whitelegg, Redwings’ Research and Policy Officer, said:
“Currently, legislation in England and Wales allows fireworks to be set off legally on private property by any adult between 7.00am and 11.00pm every day of the year, except for Bonfire Night, when the cut off is extended until midnight, and New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year, when the cut off is extended until 1am. It is not a legal requirement to have any form of licence or training to let off consumer fireworks.
“Last year the Scottish Parliament passed the Fireworks and Pyrotechnics Articles (Scotland) Bill which will tighten regulations in the country. Once the relevant provisions come into force, the Bill will introduce fireworks licensing and they will only be allowed to be supplied to, and used by, members of the public on certain dates around celebration periods. The Bill also grants local authorities the powers to set up ‘firework control zones’, though this is a lengthy, complex process requiring a public consultation and at least a 60-day notice period.
“Horses die or are injured in fireworks-related incidents every year** and Redwings wholeheartedly welcomes the tighter regulations that Scotland has introduced and is calling on Westminster to follow their lead.”
To make a donation towards Redwings’ care of the horses, ponies, donkeys and mules at their centres at this challenging time please go to Redwings.